The Bonifacio Strait International Marine Park

Countries: France , Italy
Regions concerned: Corsica, Sardinia


The strait of Bonifacio is one of the most remarkable natural sites in the western Mediterranean. The marine fauna and flora bring to life an underwater landscape that has become rare in the Mediterranean. The reserve forms part of the Ligurian Sea Cetacean Sanctuary. It is also home to many marine birds, and a wide variety of terrestrial plants.

In order to preserve this natural heritage, underwater diving and pleasure-boating are regulated, as is fishing which, while widely practiced, is limited to cordoned off areas. Despite being a very serious threat, commercial shipping is not banned in this international strait. It is nevertheless subject to permanent monitoring.

The ecological and heritage value of the site is now internationally recognised, as the Tre Padule De Suartone Nature Reserve, the most recent reserve established in Corsica, is now on the List of Wetlands of International Importance, within the framework of the Ramsar Convention.


The Bonifacio Strait International Marine Park EGCT

On 7 December 2012, the Bonifacio Strait International Marine Park adopted the form of an EGTC, marking the establishment of the first structure of this type for the implementation of EU environmental policies at cross-border level, with implications for maritime transport and the international law of the sea. The new entity is introduced twenty years after the signing of the French-Italian protocol defining the procedures for implementing this major project.

On this occasion, the presidents of the Corsica environment office1 and the La Maddalena archipelago national park signed the European convention and the founding statutes of the EGTC. The body is responsible for promoting the protection, the management and the joint development of the natural and cultural resources of the Strait, in order to implement a joint sustainable development strategy for this cooperation area.

The approach is to consider the Bonifacio Strait as a “morpho-functional unit” to facilitate the understanding of certain processes and define more appropriate management in order to face up to large-scale issues that are not bound by national borders.

The core task of the EGTC is to encourage the emergence of joint solutions for management issues that are difficult to resolve at the level of each protected marine area, such as those relating to tourist flows (excessive visitor numbers, impact of pleasure boat anchors, recreational sea fishing, etc.). The EGTC also works for international recognition of the ecological specificity of the Bonifacio Strait with its application for listing of the Bonifacio Strait as a UNESCO world heritage site and of follow-up to the reinforcement of maritime security in this international strait.

France and Italy intend to mobilize the member countries of the European Union and the Union for the Mediterranean in order to ban ships carrying dangerous goods in the Bonifacio Strait. A request to this effect must be made to the United Nations in the near future.

  1. Manager of the Tre Padule de Suartone nature reserve, the Cerbicale islands nature reserve, the Bouches de Bonifacio nature reserve and the land owned by the Conservatoire du littoral (the French coastal conservancy) along its shores.